The Heritage Tour

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The Heritage Tour

Missions & Petroglyphs

Follow the trade routes of ancient Hohokam Indians and the trails of Jesuit missionaries, discovering one of the largest undisturbed fields of ancient rock art in the region. Marvel at jewels of the Spanish Colonial missions established by Father Kino in the 17th century. Father Kino’s extraordinary 24-year Jesuit missionary career left a legacy of some 30 pueblos in Sonora and Arizona and established the Spanish “hold” in the borderlands regions. The missions stretch before you like a string of pearls, from Caborca, Sonora, to San Xavier, south of Tucson, Arizona. Each mission is a distinct architectural statement; most are still used today.

This excursion also includes a trip to a little known, but rich, cache of petroglyphs. Imagine the lives of the Hohokam Indians who built more than 1,000 campsites in this area from 800-1200A.D., as they trekked to the ocean for salt and shells, which were valuable for trading. Both the ancient rock art and the missions speak eloquently of the many people who have lived and traveled through the borderlands.


DAY 1 – Tucson to Caborca

Experience the richness and beauty of the Sonoran Desert as you travel from Tucson to the Arizona-Sonora, Mexico border. Along the way we explore Father Kino’s legacy in Arizona, which includes Tumacacori National Historic Park, the Tubac Presidio, and San Xavier del Bac Mission. Tumacacori National Historic Park preserves three 18th-century Spanish mission ruins: Tumacacori, Guevavi and Calabaza missions. Records show that Father Kino first traveled here in 1691, making these the oldest established mission communities in Arizona. San Xavier del Bac, outside of Tucson, presents one of the finest and largest missions established by Father Kino. Its dazzling white exterior is more than matched by the technical world of elaborate religious decoration that is found inside. Your La Ruta guide provides you with information about the mission and about the people who live and worship here, much as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago.

Cross the border at Nogales, one of Sonora’s thriving industrial gateways to Mexico. Nogales, Sonora, is best known for its many shopping streets that feature native Mexican crafts. Enjoy a true Mexican lunch when you stop in Santa Ana for a quick meal at a local taqueria before continuing to Carborca. Caborca, is a Spanish corruption of the Pima word “kavork,” meaning rounded hill. As we near town, you will see a “little hill” that looks like a turned over basket. A rich agricultural area, Caborca is a modern festival city of 100,000 people. As the day winds down, you will find yourself relaxing in a comfortable motel and enjoying an evening of festive music presented by your local hosts, and dinner at an outstanding restaurant.

DAY 2 – Petroglyph and Pitiquito Mission

Spend the morning hiking and exploring the amazing petroglyph field in the La Proveedora (the Provider) Mountains near Caborca. Hohokam Indians built more than 1,000 campsites in this area from 800-1200A.D as they trekked to the ocean for salt and shells, commodities that were not indigenous to the desert so were considered valuable for trading. Your local La Ruta guide helps you interpret the messages that are forever etched on these rocks. A simple picnic lunch is served on site. After lunch, travel to the jewel of Caborca, La Concepcion de Nuestra Señora de Caborca, a twin-towered neoclassical church designed by the same architect who designed San Xavier del Bac Mission near Tucson. Learn the vivid history of this mission and the role it has played in Mexican and United States history. A tour inside the missions reveals a tapestry of settlement and influence in the region that rivals the petroglyph visited earlier in the day.
After a brief siesta at the motel, venture to the nearby Pitiquito Mission. This is one of the small jewels that grace this region. End the day with an extraordinary Sonoran “carne asada” dinner prepared by your hosts.

DAY 3 – Oquitoa-Tubutama and Magdalena/Home

Spend much of this day exploring more of Father Kino’s missions in Mexico. All of the missions played an important role in establishing a Spanish presence in Mexico and southern Arizona. Eeach of these missions is still used today by local residents, remaining important gathering places for life cycle events and religious ceremonies. In Magdelana, in addition to seeing the mission, the tour will include a visit the crypt of Father Kino. After lunch, it is on to Nogales, Sonora, and then back to Tucson and Phoenix.

TOUR PRICES: Tour prices vary depending on date, itinerary, and donation amount contributed to tour sponsor (s).
Double Occupancy: Priced from $549.00
Single Occupancy: Priced from $599.00


DepartReturnSpecial Event/ItinerarySponsors/ Partners
October 3October 5 The Living Desert Museum
November 1November 3Experience the Day of the Dead celebrations in Northern SonoraScottsdale Community College
Pueblo Grande Museum
December 5December 7 Scottsdale Community College


DepartReturnSpecial Event/ItinerarySponsors/Partners
February 7February 9  
March 6March 8  
April 3April 5Heroic Battle of Caborca 
April 16April 18Customized itinerary – Focus on ArcheologyDeer Valley Rock Art Center

La Ruta de Sonora • Phone: 1.800.806.0766 • Email: [email protected]